Our Statement Regarding the Russian Federation’s Decision to List the CEELI Institute as an “Undesirable Organisation”
15 July 2022
The CEELI Institute is disappointed by the decision of the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office to designate the Institute as a so-called “undesirable organization.” Since our founding in 2000, the CEELI Institute has worked with more than 12,000 judges, lawyers, civil society actors, and human rights defenders from more than 50 countries to advance the rule of law through training and support programs. Russia’s military aggression in Ukraine is such a flagrant violation of international law that today’s decision may seem inconsequential, but the decision is a blow to the rule of law in Russia. Our work with Russian lawyers has focused on fundamental legal issues essential to strengthening the rule of law in Russia. Our programs have included efforts to bolster the independence of the legal profession, combat corruption, promote effective litigation by Russian practitioners before the European Court of Human Rights, and provide continuing legal education and professional development on a wide range of subjects, from trial advocacy skills to personal insolvency law. This decision, which comes on top of recent Russian government policies and actions to strip courts of any remaining independence, reflects the Russian regime’s lack of respect for the rights of its own citizens.
We also note that until it was not invited this year, the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation had for many years participated in the annual Conference of Chief Judges of Central and Eastern Europe, which the CEELI Institute has long supported. The CEELI Institute was instrumental in drafting the Brijuni Statement of the Principles of the Independence of the Judiciary; the Russian Supreme Court was in the first group of courts to sign that statement, in 2015.
This designation adds the CEELI Institute to a list of esteemed organizations committed to advancing human rights, democratic values, and the rule of law, including People in Need, the Atlantic Council, the European Endowment for Democracy, the MacArthur Foundation, the C.S. Mott Foundation, the National Endowment for Democracy, Open Society Foundations, and, as of today, Bellingcat. We will continue to support the work of our brave colleagues in Russia who seek to ensure that the legal profession remains strong, ethical, and responsive to the needs of Russian citizens.